Public Consultation on the adaptation of the Marine Protected Area Namuncurá – Burdwood Bank

Public Consultation on the adaptation of the Marine Protected Area Namuncurá – Burdwood Bank 600 450 The Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea

Following the open public consultation regarding the adaptation of the Marine Protected Area Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank, the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence prepared a series of contributions and comments.

The Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence considers the scientific research effort and technical work involved in the development of the management plan for the Marine Protected Area Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank since 2014 very valuable. Regarding the current  Public Consultation on the adaptation of this marine protected area, the Forum highlights:

 

  1. The associated adaptation and rezoning proposal constitutes an improvement over the conservation and management measures originally defined by the zoning established in the law for the creation of the MPA Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank (National Law 26,875) and complies with the provisions of National Law 27,037 regarding the National System of Marine Protected Areas. The Forum acknowledges as an important success the suggestion to give most of the area the management category of “Marine National Park,” since it ensures a high level of protection, allowing only tourism and research activities.
  2. Based on the research made by the scientific-technical group on the seabed of the Burdwood Bank and the communities associated to it: ¨The benthic community of the MPANBB is unique and characteristic of the Burdwood Bank, and it is different from other benthic communities in the region.¨ We think it is essential to exclude from the entire area of the bank (circumscribed by the 200 meter isobath, boundary of the marine protected area established by Law 26,875) all human activities that involve the extraction, impact or deterioration of the seabed and the species therein.
  3. The water column that surrounds the Burdwood Bank above the continental shelf and its surroundings is very important for the population of Fueguian sprat, a species with a key trophic role. It should be noted that the stock of Fueguian sprat from the bank is probably different from those found in the coastal areas of Tierra del Fuego. That is why we consider it important to guarantee the protection of this population, excluding from the area any human activity that may involve its extraction or any other kind of pressure over it.
  4. We agree with the experts who recommended that the entire bank area be included in a management category that excludes all extractive activities. There are several reasons for this: a) the benthic assemblies of the bank are unique and different from those in nearby and comparable areas; b) the bank itself is highly heterogeneous on a small spatial scale and it doesn’t show a specific pattern. This characteristic is also unique and it differentiates it from areas outside the bank.
  5. Taking into account that the adjacent marine protected areas created by National Laws 26875 and 27490 constitute an environmental unit, and considering it is convenient to provide special protection to the habitats located in the strip next to the continental shelf, we propose to give the category of Strict National Marine Reserve to the sector of the plateau adjacent to the shelf in the southern sector of the first of these protected areas. The northern limit of the proposed sector can be a parallel, in order to simplify its cartography and favor the inspection tasks.
  6. We are particularly concerned that the proposal submitted to public consultation includes the western sector of the bank in the category of Marine National Reserve (which could potentially accept extractive activities, subject to the provisions of the Management Plan). It should be noted that due to the configuration of the currents and the geomorphology of the bottom, in this sector there are processes that facilitate the lateral and vertical transport of nutrients and living organisms. Therefore, this place is key to the connectivity between communities from the bottom and the water column. This sector also stands out for the presence of Fueguian sprat larvae and a high richness of phytoplankton species. Although the processes that determine these particularities are not yet clear, we consider that the precautionary principle enshrined in the Environmental Framework Law No. 25,675 should be a priority. Consequently, we believe that the western sector of the Burdwood Bank should be strictly protected, and all extractive activities should be banned.

The Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank area comprises an underwater plateau with a maximum depth of 200 meters, located approximately 150 km east of the Isla de los Estados and 160 km south of the Islas Malvinas archipelago. Its surface is around 28,000 square kilometers. The faunal assembly of the seabed which includes endemic species stands out. Fish of commercial interest, such as southern blue whiting, black hake and Fueguian sprat reproduce in waters surrounding the bank.

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